The Memory Key
By Conor Fitzgerald
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781620401118, 312pp.
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
List Price: $26.00*
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In the latest Commissario Alec Blume novel, our hero is called in by old friend magistrate Principe to "shadow" an investigation into the attempted murder of a former fascist terrorist responsible for a public bombing thirty years earlier. This investigation is adjacent to another: the murder of a young woman on the university campus of Rome. The apparent link between these two crimes is an articulate, learned, and thoroughly crazy professor called Pitagora, who teaches both literature and a system enigmatic memory techniques. Professor Pitagora is up-front about his political beliefs, but could his strange psychological program be masking something important?
All the investigators know the two crimes form part of the same nexus, but Blume believes he can find clues through the Professor. If only he were actually assigned to this case...
Meanwhile, Blume has been living with Caterina and not finding it easy - or rather, poor old Caterina is not finding it easy living with him. Will the strains in their relationship lead Blume astray? And can he successfully navigate the ranks of his distrustful colleagues, a rocky relationship, and a high-profile investigation--all without crossing the line?
"The sniper’s bullet doesn’t quite dispatch notorious terrorist Stefania Manfellotto, but the investigation into the attack on the Rome university campus that leaves Manfellotto brain damaged—as well as the subsequent fatal shooting there six months later of witness Sofia Fontana—could finally deal a death blow to the career of Commissioner Alec Blume in Fitzgerald’s cerebral fourth mystery featuring the maverick American expat (after 2012’s The Namesake). By rights, Blume shouldn’t even be involved in the politically sensitive probe, which falls under the jurisdiction of the rival Carabinieri. But that detail isn’t about to deter him once his old mentor, magistrate Filippo Principe, appeals for help, any more than he would dream of changing his opinion on a road rage homicide just because his lover, Chief Insp. Caterina Mattiola, sees it differently. Blume’s readiness to pursue any leads in an increasingly puzzling case helps make him an outstanding detective, but also, within a society that puts such a premium on personal relationships, a perennial outsider." -- Publishers Weekly